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Beef and Barley Soup for Two


To make this soup easy and delicious, we rely on rich, meaty flavor from a well-browned fond. We start with blade steaks, which are easy to find and tenderize quickly. Adding the meat all at once is quicker than browning in batches, and after the moisture evaporates, the meat begins to color. Sautéing mushrooms, carrots, and onions in the same pan adds another layer of flavor, while soy sauce, tomato paste, and plenty of garlic deepen the flavor even more. Quick-cooking barley needs only 15 minutes of simmering.

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  • 8 ounces blade steak, trimmed of gristle and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 6 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking barley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped


Servings 2
Adapted from


Step 1

Pat steak dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add steak and cook until browned all over, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in now-empty pot until shimmering. Add mushrooms, carrots, and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until any mushroom juice has evaporated and vegetables begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add tomato paste, garlic, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth, soy sauce, and browned steak, along with any accumulated juices, and bring to simmer, scraping bottom of pot to loosen any browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in barley and continue to simmer until barley and steak are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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